While the indictment does not name any city officials or specify any actions, Bishop has previously claimed a friendship with Mayor Eric Adams. On Monday, a spokesman for the mayor pointed to Mr. Adams issued a statement in July acknowledging his relationship with the bishop but saying “no one is above the law.”
Early in Bishop Whitehead’s relationship with the unnamed businessman, the clergyman also used threats of force to obtain $5,000 from a business owned by the businessman, prosecutors said. According to the indictment, the merchant made the payments at the direction of law enforcement officials.
The allegations related to the retired church member were first revealed in a lawsuit filed in Brooklyn in 2021 and an investigation into the bishop’s wealth. In 2020, a woman who had recently attended church was recovering from surgery, prosecutors said. Bishop Whitehead offered to help her buy a new home, and Pauline Anderson, 56, sent him $90,000 she had withdrawn from her retirement account, according to a lawsuit.
“I’m a man of integrity and you can’t lose,” he texted her. She asked for her money back but he said it was too late as it had already been invested.
The indictment said the false statement charge arose from an encounter with an FBI agent during an investigation into his conduct. Agents executed a search warrant on Bishop’s cellphone, and he told them he only had one, when in fact he had a second.
Since the looting of his church and subsequent media scrutiny, Bishop Whitehead has portrayed himself as a victim of racism and humiliation. On Sunday, during an Instagram live broadcast from his home — the congregation stopped meeting at church a few weeks ago — he said the turbulent summer had been a test of his character.
“You all know the whole world is against me? The world!” he said. “They put the media out there, and everywhere I go, people are taking pictures. They’re talking about me, and they’re just laying there, waiting to kill me tomorrow morning.”